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Tough Guys Don't Dance: A Novel Hardcover – September 10, 2002


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Random House (September 10, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375508740
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375508745
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.3 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.7 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,536,111 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

** 'Hypnotic...thrilling. MAIL ON SUNDAY ** 'Mailer writes like an angel- a master of small surprises that may be precursors of seismic shocks. LONDON REVIEW OF BOOKS, CHICAGO TRIBUNE ** 'Think of it as a novel by Dashiell Hammett and transpose it into Mailer's style. NEW YORK TIMES --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Inside Flap

A dark, brilliant novel of astonishing pitch, set in Provincetown, a ?spit of shrub and dune? captured here in the rawness and melancholy of the off-season, Tough Guys Don?t Dance is the story of Tim Madden, an unsuccessful writer addicted to bourbon, cigarettes, and blonde, careless women with money. On the twenty-fourth morning after the decampment of his wife, Patty Lareine, he awakens with a hangover, considerable sexual excitement, and, on his upper arm, a red tattoo bearing a name from the past. Of the night before, he remembers practically nothing. What he soon learns is that the front passenger seat of his Porsche is soaked with blood and that in a secluded corner of his marijuana stash in a nearby woods rests a blonde head, severed at the throat.
Is Madden therefore a murderer? He has no way of knowing. As in many novels of crime, the narrative centers on violence?physical, sexual, and emotional?but these elements move in their orbits through a rich constellation of character as Madden tries to reconstruct the missing hours of a terrible evening. In the course of this in-quiry a bizarre and vividly etched gallery of characters reappears to him as in a dream?ex-prizefighters, sexual junkies, mediums, former cons, a police chief, a world-weary former girl friend, and Mad-den?s father, old now but still a Herculean figure, a practitioner of the sternest backroom ethics.
Tough Guys Don?t Dance represents Mailer at the peak of his powers with a stunningly conceived novel that soon transcends its origins as a mystery to become a relentless search into the recesses and buried virtues of the modern American male. Rarely, as many readers will discern, have the paradoxes of machismo and homosexuality been so well explored.

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Customer Reviews

I felt cheated, as though he just didn't want to bother.
Poogy
In Tough Guys Don't Dance, Mailer gives us many colorful characters, in his usual descriptive style, but don't be fooled.
Mark P. Sadler
Also too many characters that fit into plot just a little too neatly (like Bolo).
An Avid Reader

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Edward Scott Haas on September 9, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
"Tough Guys Don't Dance" is a good old fashioned thriller set in a decaying seaside New England town inhabited by a motley assortment of wealthy elitists, drug dealers, fishermen, psychopaths, and brooding alcoholic tough guys like the hero Tim Madden. Someone has it in for Tim--a struggling novelist and former criminal. After a night of heavy drinking and quazi-amnesia, severed heads are turning up on his property and the passenger seat of his car is drenched in blood. Can he find the killer (s) before he gets blamed for the killings? Mailer builds up the suspense like a true master of mystery (even though mystery is not his primary field). There is also some fine writing in this book. It should be read aloud like poetry. More than a decade before "Pulp Fiction" Mailer knew how to mix a thrilling crime drama with interesting conversations and musings about life, love, and amature philosophy. As Tim tries to solve the mystery, he broods about ethnic and cultural differences {he is a mixture of Irish and Jewish and the town is mostly Portugese}, history {he is obsessed with the Pilgrims and other aspects of local history like "hell town" a 19th century vice district}, wives, parents and family life, cops, prison, alcohol, drugs, war and on and on. In the hands of a bad {or even average} writer, this would just get annoying, but Mailer carries it off well.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Poogy on October 29, 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I picked this one up because I'd never read any Mailer and figured it was about time. Maybe I should have stuck with one of the classics, but the library was out of Armies of the Night and Naked and the Dead. No question, he can write, and had no trouble sustaining my interest for the 225 pages or so. But the premise that sucks you in -- man wakes up to find he's gotten a tatoo he can't remember getting, and may have been on a killing spree he also can't remember -- leads to a terribly convoluted tale that deserved -- and needed -- a much more careful rendering. Had Mailer taken twice as many pages and the trouble to lead the reader through the story, it might have been fascinating to see how the intricate plot developed, but after a hundred and fifty fun pages he just decides to throw the explanation for everything at you all at once, like a B-movie in which the villain for some unexplained reason just can't stop explaining his scheme to the hero before killing him. In fact, that's exactly what happens. I felt cheated, as though he just didn't want to bother.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Ted Burke on April 3, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Mailer had said that he wanted to write something fast, nasty and fun after the time and energy he lavished on two of brilliant and more ambitious projects, Ancient Evenings and Executioner's Song. Tough Guys Don't Dance is that book, in the tradition of Chandler, Hammett, Ross Macdonald. Tim Madden wakes up after a long life of wasting away as a binging alcoholic and finds his bed drenched in blood; later he finds his wife's severed head in a secret pot stash. He, however remembers none of it, and this provides Mailer ample room to ruminate about the metaphysics of hangovers and black outs and the perversions one finds themselves willing to commit when wealth and power are at stake. The cast of characters are unruly, pinched in the nerve and casting a faint whiff of what one imagines the store room where Dorian Gray's portrait was held in sick secrecy. Madden, hardly an innocent , stumbles and routs about trying to piece together the events of his last binge, terrified in the possibility that he might well be his wife's killer. This is the most horrible of personal journeys, the saga of a man seeking evidence as to whether he's a monster or merely a hapless dupe.Mailer's prose is breathtaking and poetic, and creates a tension with the gamy undertakings of the plot. This is not one of Mailer's masterworks, not be a long shot, but it has verve and drive and a splendidly sick wit, and it reminds us that Mailer can construct an odd tale and twist it in any direction he pleases.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By David Bonesteel on June 12, 2007
Format: Hardcover
A frustrated writer awakens after a drinking binge to discover evidence that he may have committed murder. Like the hero of "An American Dream," he is mentally unstable and prone to superstition. Many have compared this novel to the books of Chandler and Hammett, but I did not find the prose to be as lean and mean as many reviewers would lead us to believe. Although the language is extraordinary, it is also filled with lengthy digressions, particularly toward the beginning, so much so that I began to despair of anything ever actually happening. Once the tale gets rolling, however, its a good one with terrific dialogue. Mailer brilliantly evokes a grim atmosphere in a struggling New England seacoast village.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Richard Cunningham on August 24, 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback
"Tough Guys Don't Dance" is a haunting, brooding tour de force. Mailer's observational skills and psychological depth are hard to match. Tim Madden is equal parts anti-hero and anti-protagonist. Fitting in with Mailer's niche as journalism as fiction( i.e. "Armies of the Night"), Madden is usually not wise or honorable, just more so than those he encounters.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Edward Scott Haas on September 9, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
"Tough Guys Don't Dance" is a good old fashioned thriller set in a decaying seaside New England town inhabited by a motley assortment of wealthy elitists, drug dealers, fishermen, psychopaths, and brooding alcoholic tough guys like the hero Tim Madden. Someone has it in for Tim--a struggling novelist and former criminal. After a night of heavy drinking and quazi-amnesia, severed heads are turning up on his property and the passenger seat of his car is drenched in blood. Can he find the killer (s) before he gets blamed for the killings? Mailer builds up the suspense like a true master of mystery (even though mystery is not his primary field). There is also some fine writing in this book. It should be read aloud like poetry. More than a decade before "Pulp Fiction" Mailer knew how to mix a thrilling crime drama with interesting conversations and musings about life, love, and amature philosophy. As Tim tries to solve the mystery, he broods about ethnic and cultural differences {he is a mixture of Irish and Jewish and the town is mostly Portugese}, history {he is obsessed with the Pilgrims and other aspects of local history like "hell town" a 19th century vice district}, wives, parents and family life, cops, prison, alcohol, drugs, war and on and on. In the hands of a bad {or even average} writer, this would just get anaoying, but Mailer carries it off well.
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